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Inside Look: Voting on the National List
MOSES Organic Specialist Harriet Behar attended the recent meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in Rhode Island. Here are her updates:
Oct. 19, 2012
The National Organic Standards Board wrangled through some controversial subjects the last two days of its meeting. A long list of synthetic nutrients was reviewed for use in organically labeled infant formula, with only L-methionine achieving approval. While the other nutrients are considered by some to be important, only L-methionine was required by the Federal government.
Rotenone was voted to be put on the list of prohibited materials as of January 2016. While it is available in the United States at garden centers, it can only be legally used by home gardeners, and not on any food that would be sold to someone else. Once the stocks of this material are used up, it will no longer be sold at all, due to research that shows exposure to this material has a correlation with Parkinson’s Disease. It is currently used on NOP organic crops grown in other countries, most notably bananas in south America. There is no residue present on the bananas, but it does put the applicators of this material at risk. Grower representatives came to the NOSB meeting, stating they did not have sufficient alternatives to this material and they did not want to see it banned in NOP organic production. The January 2016 date is meant to give these growers time to develop those alternatives.
Biodegradable, biobased mulch film was approved for placement on the National List of synthetic substances for crops. There was much discussion concerning the lack of research detailing the effects on soil life as well as any chemical residues when these products decompose. It is used in Europe and by some noncertified organic farmers in the U.S. who state they have not seen any negative effects, and the product fully degrades within a year. There are restrictions on what type of mulch film would be allowed, including that the corn starch used to make it would not be GMO and that it meets the testing requirements that it fully degrades, among other items.
All NOSB votes are recommendations.Changes to the National List must go through a public comment period and are not regulation until published in the Federal Register by the National Organic Program. Watch the NOP website for Public Comment opportunities.
Barry Flamm, current NOSB Chair, led his last meeting of the NOSB after 5 years of service. The new NOSB Chair is Mac Stone of Kentucky. Vice Chair is John Foster of California and Secretary is Calvin Walker of Louisianna.
Oct. 17, 2012
There was a petition to remove Ferric Phosphate as slug control from the National List of approved synthetics for organic production. That was defeated and it will continue to be allowed at this time.
There was a petition to expand the allowed extractants for humic acids to include Hydrogen Peroxide to the current listing of alkali extracted humic acid. That failed and the listing will remain as is, only allowing alkali extracted humic acid.
There was a petition to put Propelyne Glycol Monolaureate on the national list as an approved synthetic acaracide (kills mites and ticks). This was not successful and this product was not added to the National List for organic production.
This was a petition to add synthetic Sulfuric acid for stabilization of digested poultry manure to a pH uner 4.5 but not below 3.5. This petition was not successful and it will not be allowed in organic production.
There was petition to add synthetic nonanoic acid to the approved National List sa an insect repellant and insectide was not successful and it will not be allowed for organic production.